Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Autoworkers Letter to Obama

Autoworkers Letter to Obama


To: President Barack Obama


From: Concerned Autoworkers, Retirees And Supporters


Re: Auto Industry Crisis & Global Climate Change


Date: July 14, 2009


Dear President Obama,


Your administration has reported that 400,000 jobs in

the auto industry have been lost during the economic

downturn. Though some jobs have been saved, many more

will be lost through the bankruptcy restructuring

implemented by the Auto Task Force at Chrysler and GM.

Economists are predicting a slow recovery at best and,

in any event, the market for autos and trucks will

remain diminished for years to come.  We in Detroit and

in the automobile and manufacturing centers throughout

the Midwest are faced with a major crisis for which a

comprehensive solution is required.


We believe that the economic crisis is interwoven with

an environmental one - that, in the words of NASA

scientist Jim Hansen, we face an "irreversible tipping

point" if we don't act swiftly to reduce our carbon

footprint and therefore positively impact global

climate change.  We believe this fact requires

rethinking our country's manufacturing priorities.

Instead of laying off workers and devastating working-

class communities, we believe the combination of crises

demands a bold proposal that can put people back to

work and address global climate change. We believe this

can be done, and done creatively.


Until the recent fall in vehicle sales, auto use was

contributing 20% of all annual U.S.greenhouse gas

emissions (more than four tons per person) and 40% of

all U.S. oil consumption. Yet of the 90% of Americans

who drove to work in 2007, 76% drove alone. Fewer than

5% used public transportation. Eighty percent of the

total U.S. population lives in metropolitan areas, with

30% in the cities. Yet few cities outside New York City

have an adequate system of public transportation.


Clearly we must turn from an energy-inefficient, auto-

centered society to one that increasingly uses mass

transit along with energy-efficient vehicles. That

means prioritizing buses, light rail, high-speed trains

and the tracks they run on. Manufacturing also needs to

be geared toward building wind and water turbines as

well as solar panels. Instead of attempting to

resuscitate automobile companies, we should be building

a Transportation and Energy Industry for the 21st century.


Your administration has taken a positive first step by

creating two blue ribbon task forces; The White House

Task Force on Middle Class Families, called "Promoting

American Manufacturing in the 21st Century", chaired by

Vice-President Biden, and the "White House Council on

Automotive Communities and Workers", under the

leadership of Labor Secretary, Hilda Solis and Larry

Summers, your Chief Economic Advisor.  You have charged

them with the tasks of preparing American industry for

the future and supporting "manufacturing communities and workers."


We welcome these initiatives and urge you to ensure

that the size of the ideas being considered match the

size of the problems we face.   The problems

confronting us must be addressed holistically, the

leadership must be visionary in its approach and the

solutions must be innovative and far-reaching rather

than politically expedient crisis management.  To that

end, we offer the following ideas:


First, because, we the people are now major

stockholders in GM and Chrysler, we believe that it

would be in the national interest to assume direct

ownership of the GM and Chrysler plants that are closed

or closing (as interest on our investment) to expedite

the retooling and conversion of these plants for the

manufacture of the products that we have mentioned above.


We must start now, so that by 2010 we will be well on

our way to creating the jobs of tomorrow.  We have the

facilities, the equipment, the skilled workers to be

able to complete this in record time.  All we need is

the political will to do so.


We know this is not a pipe dream because it was at the

start of U.S. involvement in World War II that a

massive conversion of existing auto plants for war-time

production was completed in just eight months.  The

obstacles that had to be overcome were not technical,

but political.  It behooves you and your administration

to take on the threat of global climate change - and

the dislocations in the automobile industry - with the

same sense of urgency and gravity that President

Franklin Roosevelt acted upon then.


Additionally, it is our understanding that Chrysler and

GM own a large number of patents for green technology.

We encourage a thorough review of these patents and

believe that any technology that GM and Chrysler own

that they have no plans on utilizing in the next three

years, be appropriated (again, as interest on

investment) and uses found for these technologies.


Your administration is in a position at this moment of

great peril, to create a new paradigm - for addressing

the US role in industrial manufacturing and taking the

lead on combating global warming.  We urge that - in

this defining moment - you reiterate your pledge that "yes we can!"




Bill Alford, former President, UAW Local 235 (AAM), Detroit, MI


Theresa Barber, UAW Local 663, Anderson, IN


Al Benchich, former President, UAW Local 909 (GM), Warren, MI


Edward Blakley, UAW  Local 653, Pontiac, MI


Michael Bloom, UAW 549, Mansfield, OH


Tony Browning, UAW Local 1700, Sterling Heights, MI


Brenda Caldwell, retiree, UAW Local 977, Marion, IN. Metal Fabricating Plant


Allen Cholger, Staff Rep., United Steelworkers, District 2


M. Crosby, UAW Local 2209, Ft. Wayne, IN


Connie DeVol, retiree, UAW Local 2151, Coopersville, MI(closed)


Dave Elsila,


Katie Elsila, UAW Local 1981


Dianne Feeley, UAW Local 235 (AAM), Detroit, MI


Bill FletcherJr., Center for Labor Renewal, co-author - SolidarityDivided


Lydia Fischer Ghana Goodwin-Dye, President, UAW Local 909, Warren, MI


David Green, Detroit Democratic Socialists of America,


Frank Hammer, UAW-GM International Representative, retired


Julie Hurwitz, Attorney


Michael Heaton, C.A.W Local 1285 (Chrysler)


Robert Ingalls, UAW (retired)


Barbara Ingalls, ITU/CWA


Glenn Jackson, UAW Local 5960, Lake Orion, MI


Cheryl Jameson, UAW Local 292, Kokomo, IN


Michael S. Japowicz Sr., UAW Local 594, Pontiac, MI


Florence Katroscik, UAW Local 909 Retiree, Warren, MI


John Kavanaugh, UAW Local 235(AAM) Detroit (retired)


Jack Kiedel, UAW Local 686, Lockport, NY


Thomas Lacas, G.M. Unit, CAW Local 199, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada


Sharon McAlpine, UAW Local 235, AAM, Detroit MI, Toolmaker


Lew Moye, UAW Local 110 Retiree, St Louis, MO


Elly Leary, UAW Local 422, Framingham, MA


Robert E. Niethe, UAW Local 686, Lockport, NY, retired


Hiroko Niethe, UAW Local 686, Lockport, NY, retired


Glenn Brian Reday, GM UAW recently retired, Local 435 Wilmington, DE


Eric V. Reuther, son of UAW pioneers, Victor and Sophie Reuther


John S. Reuther, son of UAW Pioneer, Victor G. Reuther


Alexander "Sasha" Reuther, grandson of UAW Pioneer Victor G. Reuther


Michael Rynca, UAW Local 5960, Pontiac, MI


Joretta Rynca, UAW Local 651, Flint, MI


Paul Schrade, former UAW International Executive Board Member


Clay Smith, UAW Local 2166, Shreveport, LA


Jeffrey Stallman, IUE798, GM Moraine (closed Dec. 23, 2008)


Sam Stark, UAW retiree


Thomas W. Stephens, Policy Analyst, City of Detroit City Council


James Theisen, UAW Local 212, Sterling Heights, MI


Wendy Thompson, former President UAW Local 235 (AAM) Detroit, MI


Carole Travis, former President,UAW Local 719, LaGrange, IL (retired)


Jerry Tucker, former UAW International Executive Board Member


Brett Ward, UAW Local 1700, Sterling Heights, MI


L. M. Wittek, UAW Local 2151, Retired, Coopersville, MI


Robert M. Woods, UAW Local 699, Saginaw, MI


Please send all correspondence to:


Autoworker Caravan

c/o Frank Hammer

20033 Renfrew

Detroit, MI 48221





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